November 17, 2022

During our visit to Asheville, North Carolina, earlier this month, we spent one day at Biltmore House — but not to see the castle-like chateau erected by the New York-based Vanderbilts as their summer place. We’ve toured the house before, and it’s interesting, but I didn’t feel the need to see it again. However, the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed gardens and park-like estate? Those I could visit weekly.

The house sits high above the gardens, and elegant stone stairs and terraces shaded by old wisteria vines lead you down.

The “backyard” in late-autumn hues

The house and its terraces overlook the aptly named Blue Ridge Mountains.

We passed through the Italian Garden, where lily and papyrus ponds shine in warmer seasons but were largely dormant after several hard freezes. When we reached the long wisteria terrace overlooking the Shrub Garden, we paused to enjoy the view.

Many deciduous trees and shrubs at Biltmore were still holding onto rich color in early November. Japanese maples were clothed in smoldering red.

Amsonia (my most-coveted plant from the gardens) in pumpkin spice.

Another Japanese maple, nearly bare, allowed us to appreciate its gnarled and waterfall-like form.

A maroon Japanese maple frames a view of the big house.

Along with the maples, Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) was beautifully colored and still held its leaves. It stood out throughout the gardens.

Garlic chives’ seedheads make ghostly parasols.

Pretty foliage

Tea viburnum (Viburnum setigerum) with rich red leaves and berries

This weeping blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca pendula’) is one of my favorite trees at Biltmore. Look how it arches over the path — a shaggy creature with stretching tentacles.

A white camellia in bloom

Back to the blazing colors of fall!

More!

And more!

Walled Garden

Stepping into the formal Walled Garden, we found gardeners forking up fall bedding annuals and making good progress. Gah! I’m glad I didn’t miss the autumn display in all its Crayola intensity.

I like how the orange chrysanthemums play off the orange trim of the conservatory. The purple and orange mums may have been going mushy from multiple freezes but still looked garden worthy to my eye. However, Christmas decorations were going up, and I imagine mini Christmas trees, ornamental cabbages, and pansies in place of mums and salvias by now.

Actually here are some pansies already. And will these conical shrubs serve as the mini Christmas trees? I need someone from Asheville to report.

But on this early November day, it was still autumn for a few hours longer.

Along the edges of the Walled Garden, bedding annuals give way to borders of small trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses. Look at these gorgeous, orange-berried trees.

Actually this whole bed wowed me with its fall color and diaphanous grasses.

Love!

Another look at those berries from a different angle

Upright grasses and annual castor bean

Another striking combo, which we can easily replicate here in Texas: beautyberry, Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), and softleaf yucca. Beautyberry prefers afternoon shade in our climate, of course. A vine-covered arch frames the yuccas nicely.

Artichoke with a matrix of euphorbia and dwarf pink grass

Golden shrubs complement the orange-tiled wall and roof of the gardener’s cottage.

Behind the cottage we found another Persian ironwood, with a sign declaring this one the N.C. State Champion Tree.

After touring the conservatory and doing a little shopping below it at A Gardener’s Place gift shop, we headed back up through the Shrub Garden, where this beautyberry and hydrangea combo stopped me in my tracks. Shazam!

It’s so good.

Even better with the red, orange, and gold foliage of surrounding trees.

Biking at Biltmore

Until this trip, the house, garden, and park-like entrance road were all I’d ever seen of Biltmore. This time we decided to bike around the estate. So we popped over to the Bike Barn in Antler Hill Village and rented electric bikes for two hours. I hadn’t been on a bike in years, but as they say, you never forget. Still, shifting gears and the power assist on an electric bike was new to me, and it took a little practice to get the hang of it. You can really cruise along flat trails, and when you change gears properly and adjust your power, climbing even steep hills is like magic. Which is good because there are some real hills at Biltmore.

A romantic view of Biltmore House across a misty pond called the Lagoon.

Off the paved trail and onto gravel

When I spotted a wall of towering bamboo with a doorway, I swung around and pedaled inside. It’s a circular glade of bamboo!

We pedaled around it a few times and then back out on the trail.

The trees were beautiful in their late-fall finery, both gold…

…and red.

A resting place at the top of a park-like hill

Overlook of the Bass Pond and its arching bridge

Heading back I enjoyed this view of the French Broad River and the Blue Ridge beyond.

What a beautiful place, and a great way to experience the larger estate at Biltmore.

The Approach Road

As we got back in our car and exited along Biltmore’s winding approach road, I remembered a long-ago school field trip here when I was about 13. (I grew up two hours south of Asheville, in Upstate South Carolina.) A Biltmore guide had boarded our bus as we arrived to tell us about the grounds.

Olmsted shaped and planted the picturesque open woodland along the 3-mile entrance road, she told us. I was dumbfounded. I’d been gazing through the windows at what I’d thought was pure nature, only somehow more beautiful, and was awed to realize that it was designed to look that way. The scale of that, and the vision!

It was my introduction to the power of landscape architecture, that sometimes invisible hand.

It’s interesting what sticks in your mind from a field trip of four decades ago.

I have a long history with Biltmore and its gardens. Seeing it again was like visiting an old friend.

Gardens are like that.

Up next: A scenic drive through the Smoky Mountains and Cade’s Cove, where we saw bears and elk. For a look back at fall foliage, falls, and food in and around Asheville, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Autumn gardens and biking at Biltmore House appeared first on Digging.

A day exploring the gardens and riding the bike trails at Biltmore House and enjoying the colors of late fall…. Read More
The post Autumn gardens and biking at Biltmore House appeared first on Digging.Read MoreDigging

November 17, 2022

During our visit to Asheville, North Carolina, earlier this month, we spent one day at Biltmore House — but not to see the castle-like chateau erected by the New York-based Vanderbilts as their summer place. We’ve toured the house before, and it’s interesting, but I didn’t feel the need to see it again. However, the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed gardens and park-like estate? Those I could visit weekly.

The house sits high above the gardens, and elegant stone stairs and terraces shaded by old wisteria vines lead you down.

The “backyard” in late-autumn hues

The house and its terraces overlook the aptly named Blue Ridge Mountains.

We passed through the Italian Garden, where lily and papyrus ponds shine in warmer seasons but were largely dormant after several hard freezes. When we reached the long wisteria terrace overlooking the Shrub Garden, we paused to enjoy the view.

Many deciduous trees and shrubs at Biltmore were still holding onto rich color in early November. Japanese maples were clothed in smoldering red.

Amsonia (my most-coveted plant from the gardens) in pumpkin spice.

Another Japanese maple, nearly bare, allowed us to appreciate its gnarled and waterfall-like form.

A maroon Japanese maple frames a view of the big house.

Along with the maples, Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) was beautifully colored and still held its leaves. It stood out throughout the gardens.

Garlic chives’ seedheads make ghostly parasols.

Pretty foliage

Tea viburnum (Viburnum setigerum) with rich red leaves and berries

This weeping blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca pendula’) is one of my favorite trees at Biltmore. Look how it arches over the path — a shaggy creature with stretching tentacles.

A white camellia in bloom

Back to the blazing colors of fall!

More!

And more!

Walled Garden

Stepping into the formal Walled Garden, we found gardeners forking up fall bedding annuals and making good progress. Gah! I’m glad I didn’t miss the autumn display in all its Crayola intensity.

I like how the orange chrysanthemums play off the orange trim of the conservatory. The purple and orange mums may have been going mushy from multiple freezes but still looked garden worthy to my eye. However, Christmas decorations were going up, and I imagine mini Christmas trees, ornamental cabbages, and pansies in place of mums and salvias by now.

Actually here are some pansies already. And will these conical shrubs serve as the mini Christmas trees? I need someone from Asheville to report.

But on this early November day, it was still autumn for a few hours longer.

Along the edges of the Walled Garden, bedding annuals give way to borders of small trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses. Look at these gorgeous, orange-berried trees.

Actually this whole bed wowed me with its fall color and diaphanous grasses.

Love!

Another look at those berries from a different angle

Upright grasses and annual castor bean

Another striking combo, which we can easily replicate here in Texas: beautyberry, Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), and softleaf yucca. Beautyberry prefers afternoon shade in our climate, of course. A vine-covered arch frames the yuccas nicely.

Artichoke with a matrix of euphorbia and dwarf pink grass

Golden shrubs complement the orange-tiled wall and roof of the gardener’s cottage.

Behind the cottage we found another Persian ironwood, with a sign declaring this one the N.C. State Champion Tree.

After touring the conservatory and doing a little shopping below it at A Gardener’s Place gift shop, we headed back up through the Shrub Garden, where this beautyberry and hydrangea combo stopped me in my tracks. Shazam!

It’s so good.

Even better with the red, orange, and gold foliage of surrounding trees.

Biking at Biltmore

Until this trip, the house, garden, and park-like entrance road were all I’d ever seen of Biltmore. This time we decided to bike around the estate. So we popped over to the Bike Barn in Antler Hill Village and rented electric bikes for two hours. I hadn’t been on a bike in years, but as they say, you never forget. Still, shifting gears and the power assist on an electric bike was new to me, and it took a little practice to get the hang of it. You can really cruise along flat trails, and when you change gears properly and adjust your power, climbing even steep hills is like magic. Which is good because there are some real hills at Biltmore.

A romantic view of Biltmore House across a misty pond called the Lagoon.

Off the paved trail and onto gravel

When I spotted a wall of towering bamboo with a doorway, I swung around and pedaled inside. It’s a circular glade of bamboo!

We pedaled around it a few times and then back out on the trail.

The trees were beautiful in their late-fall finery, both gold…

…and red.

A resting place at the top of a park-like hill

Overlook of the Bass Pond and its arching bridge

Heading back I enjoyed this view of the French Broad River and the Blue Ridge beyond.

What a beautiful place, and a great way to experience the larger estate at Biltmore.

The Approach Road

As we got back in our car and exited along Biltmore’s winding approach road, I remembered a long-ago school field trip here when I was about 13. (I grew up two hours south of Asheville, in Upstate South Carolina.) A Biltmore guide had boarded our bus as we arrived to tell us about the grounds.

Olmsted shaped and planted the picturesque open woodland along the 3-mile entrance road, she told us. I was dumbfounded. I’d been gazing through the windows at what I’d thought was pure nature, only somehow more beautiful, and was awed to realize that it was designed to look that way. The scale of that, and the vision!

It was my introduction to the power of landscape architecture, that sometimes invisible hand.

It’s interesting what sticks in your mind from a field trip of four decades ago.

I have a long history with Biltmore and its gardens. Seeing it again was like visiting an old friend.

Gardens are like that.

Up next: A scenic drive through the Smoky Mountains and Cade’s Cove, where we saw bears and elk. For a look back at fall foliage, falls, and food in and around Asheville, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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